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This page offers all of Delaware Public Media's ongoing coverage of the COVID-19 outbreak and how it is affecting the First State. Check here regularly for the latest new and information.

Restaurants can apply to expand outdoor seating ahead of planned June 1 reopening

Sophia Schmidt
Delaware Public Media

Gov. John Carney announced Tuesdayadditional allowances for retail and restaurants ahead of the planned start of phased reopening next month.

All retail establishments can operate by appointment only starting 8 a.m. Wednesday.  They can take two appointments per half hour and must follow strict social distancing and cleaning guidance.

Meanwhile restaurants and bars can apply to expand outdoor seating capacity for when they reopen next month. Such applications to local municipalities or county jurisdictions will become available May 22 and would be effective June 1.

Retailers and restaurants are scheduled to operate their indoor spaces at 30 percent of fire capacity under Phase 1 of Delaware's reopening, which is planned to begin June 1. 

Small business retailers have been allowed to offer curbside pickup with social distancing since May 8. Jewelry stores and hair salons were also allowed to begin operating in a limited capacity at that time.

"This is another step forward in the rolling reopening of Delaware’s economy,” said Gov. Carney in a statement Tuesday. “It’s our hope that these additional steps will safely bring some relief to Delaware businesses and workers who have made real financial sacrifices during this COVID-19 crisis. But as we reopen, Delawareans should stay vigilant."

Carney admitted during a press briefing Tuesday that enforcement of the remaining restrictions on businesses is light.

“We rely heavily on voluntary compliance," he said. "And the organizations— the restaurant association in particular— kind of self-enforcement. They understand what’s at stake. Now having said that, you still need public health inspections, more inspections.”

Director of the Division of Small Business Damian DeStefano said Tuesday business owners have been asking during recovery town halls how they can inspire confidence in customers when they reopen.


He said his Division along with public health officials are developing a checklist of steps businesses should take. Restaurants will be able to self-report customer protection standards they are following and receive a window cling from the state certifying this. The program will be voluntary.

“You can give customers a degree of confidence that the steps you’re taking have been reviewed by the state and should promote a healthier workplace for your staff and your customers," said DeStefano.

Sophia Schmidt is a Delaware native. She comes to Delaware Public Media from NPR’s Weekend Edition in Washington, DC, where she produced arts, politics, science and culture interviews. She previously wrote about education and environment for The Berkshire Eagle in Pittsfield, MA. She graduated from Williams College, where she studied environmental policy and biology, and covered environmental events and local renewable energy for the college paper.
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